Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why We Enjoy the Texas Coastal Bend

There are so many beautiful places to spend our winter, and yet we return again and again to The Texas Coastal Bend. This year it’s been the warmest we have ever spent here but that not even the real reason as lots of places are warmer then Wyoming.

Our lifestyle, somewhat of an alternative one, lends us the chance to meet so many nice people and make friends from everywhere. I can’t imagine living in a stick built house, where I would hardly know most of my neighbors. So of course part of it is the friends we have made here but that not the whole reason.

I know the main reason is the water. Having spent most of my life living in the plains and the mountains, the sea has always called and so we choose to spend part of the year in its thrall. Fishing is a big part of it and the past week the fishing has been good at both the South Jetty and in St Charles Bay.

Pete and I had talked at happy hour about going to the South Jetty, at Port Aransas, and so we headed out early armed with live and dead shrimp. The sea was calm and so we headed out to the end and a place where I have caught bull redfish.

There were quite a few there already, and I lost a nice fish on the first cast, but it stayed there and took my second offering. It was a nice black drum and I strung it up with thoughts of fresh fish for dinner. Now if I could catch another Renita could also have fish as she does harp a bit when I catch just one and don’t share it with her, (just kidding of course, did I actually use the word harp).

The fishing was winter slow and it took awhile before I caught a nice sheephead. It’s a fish that most native Texans disdain, but it belongs to the porgy family and they all have a beautiful white flesh that tastes great and are highly prized here by many winter Texans.

No big reds hit our baits and in fact it was slow for the rest of the day, but dinner was assured and we headed back, walking carefully on the slick rocks. Later at happy hour our friend Dave, of Dave and Jane from Michigan, invited me to fish in his boat and of course I took him up on it.

The next morning we headed out into St Charles Bay, just planning on catching some mullet, for bait, and then looking for new fishing spots. The big schools of mullet had disappeared but the fish certainly hadn’t and we caught several small but fun reds and black drum at the first three spots.

Heading back into the bay we continued to fish new places, places I couldn’t reach with our canoe and the rat reds,( a term people use for undersize reds but still fun to catch), and black drum continued to be plentiful. We eventually found a spot that had so many fish that we caught two limits of black drum and a limit of reds. It was a nice day as we fished and watched ducks and whooping cranes.

The rest of the week has been spent getting ready for shows and classes and of course grinding and sawing rocks. The lapidary shop continues to be a place where we spend lots of our winter time but that’s another story for another entry. Clear skies

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Lazy Day Paddling in St Charles Bay

We had hoped to launch at Big Tree but the tide was so low that we would have had to portage the canoe across the mud. So instead we drove to Goose Island State Park and launched the boat. It was still so low that I had to wade and drag the canoe from the west side of the parking lot, but soon enough we were both dipping our oars in the shallow water and gliding toward the mouth of St Charles Bay.

The first stop was at a favorite gap, in which I have caught quite a few speckled trout. The trout weren’t there and the only bites we had were small sheephead. An airboat of duck hunters came in and ran right over our lines and so I flipped them off as there were plenty of other places to cross in shallow water.

I have duck hunted and it isn’t just some duck hunters, it’s really anyone that is a complete and self centered ass*^&@. So we wound in our lines and paddled further into the mouth, heading for another pass. As we rowed we saw several pairs of oyster catchers and were even treated to watching a pair perform their mating dance.

Reaching the next channel we cast out but no fish bothered our lines and it was ok, just a nice lazy day on St Charles Bay. Heading back we turned the canoe to the outside of the oyster bars and again we were treated to birds that didn’t mind our nearness.

Willets and a long billed curlew were just some of the usual fare, but it was still a treat to be so close. Reaching the first pass another pair of oyster catchers entertained us and Renita even caught several sheephead. Releasing them our daughter called and so we talked about her new job.

I nearly fell asleep until the seat back collapsed and dumped me into a prone position into the canoe. I had to laugh as I have started a diet and it’s pretty obvious that I need to lose more weight when the seats breakJ.

Returning to that put in point, we loaded the boat but our bird watching wasn’t yet over. Three rosette spoonbills waded and fed in shallow water and Renita’s camera snapped away. It had been a nice day, a lazy day really, and that’s okay as sometimes it not about the fish, but instead a relaxing day on the water. Clear skies.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Paddling St Charles Bay, Whooping Cranes and Redfish, January 2013

I really do have some good images for this post, hmmmmm

I looked up at about the same time as I heard the whoopers. Renita had just cast out and was winding in the extra slack and so she hadn’t seen yet them. I told her to look up and she quickly grabbed her camera. Of course her pole doubled over as did mine and we had a double on! I fought in my fish but she simply stepped on her rod and kept snapping image after image as the whoppers flew overhead.

It has been cold here in Texas and so as soon as the weather warmed we loaded the canoe and headed to St Charles Bay. There we hoped to catch a glimpse of whoopers and perhaps catch a few fish for dinner. Regardless it would be a good day to paddle near Lamar.

As we launched four whooping cranes flew across the sky and you, (I), could even hear their distinctive call. Several birders had taken up stands at the canoe launch site and of course they were enjoying their quick glimpse of the white birds.

Heading out we paddled smoothly across water that had a small ripple but clear water none the less. We passed and disturbed several schools of mullet. We could see a whopping crane family in the distance and so we went wide as we didn’t want to disturb them. Two other kayakers actually landed on the beach and took images, which I thought was a little close, but the whoopers didn’t seem concerned.

Reaching an abandoned duck blind we anchored and cast out some live shrimp, but no redfish or black drum disturbed our poles. I knew it wouldn’t always be so easy and so we moved to another spot hoping the fish would be there.

Now there are several types of fisherman, those that anchor on a spot and those that like to move. I of course am a person who has little patience and so we decided to move again. The second spot was also devoid of trout or black drum and so we paddled to a protected cove.

Renita handed me my lunch and as we ate her pole jerked violently when a redfish blasted the shrimp! She adroitly grabbed her pole and balancing the sandwich on her knee she fought the fish in! I netted it and then my pole got hammered, we had found the fish!

We caught redfish and black drum and while they were mostly small Renita did catch and keep two legal reds for dinner. For the next two hours the bite was on and we were rewarded with a fun day of birds and fish and another memory.

Running out of bait the fish slowed and it was time for more images as Renita aimed her camera at passing night crowned herons. The wind picked up and so we had to fight back to the landing, taking water over the side from larger waves.

It didn’t really matter as it’s so shallow here that we were in no danger, after all I could always get out and wade and drag the canoe. It had been a fine day and we had ended up seeing twelve whooping cranes, along with Renita’s catch of a twenty one and twenty three inch redfish. Fish dinner tonight and maybe a side of cornbread. Clear skies




Monday, January 7, 2013

Florida to Rockport, a Quick Run

So after leaving south Florida we headed north into the cold and rain. We pushed hard for three days and the only excitement was when a drunk tried to drive around the bayou in Beaumont Texas, (It was right in the middle of the rv park we were in,(the emergency rescue were still looking for the driver when we left).
The westbound I 10 road in Louisiana was actually better and so the trip was uneventfully. The truck worked fine and the house held up. It was just so cold compared to south Florida! As we neared Rockport we were greeted by two pairs of whopping cranes. The first was at Cavasso Creek and the second a little further south. It was the first time we have ever seen them there, so it augurs well for our birding.
It was nice arriving at our usual winter spot and seeing old friends, however it is so empty here, is it the economy, are there fewer people retiring? Anyway we have lots of Alaskan and Canadian jade that needs to be cut and Renita has some larimar to work that I got her for Christmas. Not every body can give their wife a rock for Christmas and get away with it:).
Clear skies

St Petersburg Sunken Garden

I am unable to upload images due to the rotten connection.

We did play tourist one last day and Jenny met us at the Sunken Garden. The Sunken Garden was once a sinkhole that was purchased by a private individual and then adorned with exotic plants and trees from around the world.
As we strolled along the walkways I marveled at the colors. It seems that the brilliant colors in the plant world are often toxic which is a lot like the rock world that makes up our art. The bright yellows made me think of bumblebee agate which we discovered is really dangerous realgar, and yet sold to unsuspecting buyers. The bright greens remind me of the copper ores which are actually safe for the wearer but dangerous for the lapidarist, and so we have quit working them.
AS we walked I marveled at the tall bamboos, the strange palms and shrubs. I waited to see a troop of monkeys in the forest canopy, but that insanity hasn't happened here,(St Pete did have a wild monkey but it was finally captured in a trap by using bananas as a lure). Several small aviaries dotted the area and so we saw our first flamingos and kookaburras along with sveral exotic macaws.
The macaws let out loud screeches but the kookaburras never let forth with their signature set of laughs. Still I thought of the call that one hears so much in Hollywood's jungle movies. It was an enjoyable last day in St Petersburg and so I will just shut up and post some images of a place worth seeing.
Clear skies